Skip to main content

WVU Marching Band Trivia

(Please note that the facts below are as accurate as we know. If anyone should find a discrepancy, or has other interesting facts to add, they are encouraged to contact the WVU Band Office)

  • The WVU Marching Band was formed in 1901 as an all male ROTC Band of 8 members.

  • The marching band has had 13 directors over its 119-year history. Two of the thirteen directors served a combined total of 64 years - Walter Mestrezat for 37 years and Don Wilcox for 27 years. Four of the directors (Clifford Brown, Richard Strange, Frank Borkowski, and Gerald Zimmerman) each served only one year.

  • The Omicron Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi was formed in 1925 as the result of a “rebel” group of students, led by student George Saari, who decided to form their own band separate from the military ROTC WVU Band. The group was required to become a recognized student organization in order to perform, and therefore the fraternity was created. It was not until years later that these two bands merged into one true University Marching Band.

  • Except for the World War II years when women marched to replace the men in the service, the marching band was an all male organization. This changed in 1972 when Don Wilcox encouraged women to join for the first time. 12 women joined the men for band camp; 6 additional joined following camp.

  • The smallest band in WVU's history was in 1901 when the band had only 8 members.

  • The largest band in WVU's history was in 2008 when the band had 390+ members at band camp.

  • The WVU Marching Band has performed over the years in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. With the inclusion of the other WVU Bands (the Wind Symphony, the Concert Band, and the Basketball Pep Band), other locations to be added include Missouri, Michigan, New Mexico, California, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and England.

  • The band's pregame arrangements of the University's two fight songs,  Fight Mountaineers and  Hail West Virginia were arranged by WVU's 7th band director - Dr. Budd Udell.  Fight Mountaineers was composed by Fuzzy Knight and  Hail West Virginia was composed by WVU alumni Earl Miller and Ed McWhorther.

  • The band's pregame arrangement of Aaron Copland's  Simple Gifts was arranged by then WVU music student David McCullough. Dave went on to be a band graduate assistant and wrote numerous arrangements for the band. He is presently the Director of Bands at Union College in Kentucky.

  • Simple Gifts was first performed as a halftime selection in 1973. It was soon thereafter added as a permanent part of the pregame show (complete with expanding circles). For one year, Don Wilcox decided not to include the tune in the pregame show. The outcry from the university community was so great, that the selection and drill had to be inserted back into pregame for the very next game!

  • The band's pregame arrangement of John Denver's  Country Roads was arranged by WVU Professor of Music Dr. James Miltenberger.

  • Country Roads was added to the pregame show in 1972 when the song was popular throughout the nation. It has been performed every year since and it is one of the most recognizable selections in the band’s repertoire. The drill traditionally includes the famous state outline, which has become a trademark for not only the band, but also the entire University and state.

  • The pregame selection  Mountain Dew is a traditional tune arranged by Robert Foster, former Director of Bands at the University of Kansas. The faster "tag" ending was written by then graduate assistant David Williams. Dave has taught band at various WV public schools as well as composition at several WV colleges. He also arranged the tag ending for Simple Gifts.

  • The  WVU Alma Mater was written by WVU alumnus Louis Corson in 1938. The version the band plays and sings has been altered several times throughout the band's history. The present version was arranged by WVU's Director of Bands Emeritus Don Wilcox.

  • The WVU Colorguard (Silks) first appeared with the band in 1978.

  • The University's logo, the "flying WV," was first premiered in the band's pregame show in 1983, as well as the Fight Mountaineers cheer.

  • Arguably the single most important event in the history of the WVU Band, thus far, was the presentation of the John Philip Sousa Foundation's Sudler Trophy honoring the band as the nation’s outstanding collegiate marching band for 1997. The Sudler Trophy recognized the long-standing tradition of dedication, commitment, and pride by the band's present and past members, staff, and directors. The trophy was awarded by the officers of the John Philip Sousa Foundation at the 1997 Homecoming game with over 500 members of the Alumni Band joining the 330-member WVU Band for this special presentation.

  • In 1980, the WVU Band celebrated the opening of new Mountaineer Field by joining singer John Denver on the field at pregame. After the band formed the state outline, Denver and his band performed Country Roads to the delight of the sellout crowd gathered for the stadium’s opening. This also marked the first home game for new head football coach Don Nehlen.

  • The WVU Band has also shared the field for special occasions with country singer and West Virginia native Kathy Mattea (1993 and 1997), actor James Earl Jones (1998), Air Force Pilot (also the man who broke the sound barrier) and West Virginia native General Chuck Yeager (2007), America’s Got Talent winner and West Virginia native Landau Eugene Murphy (2011), country singer Trace Adkins (2012), and country singer and West Virginia native Brad Paisley (2015).

  • The band has been "guest conducted" by several prominent conductors and WVU alumni. These include Col. John Bourgeois, Director of the United States Marine Band; Jeff Taylor, Director of the United States Navy Jazz Ensemble; Jay Chattaway, composer; as well as many visiting college band directors.

  • Frank "Doc" Stevens served as the "Voice of the Mountaineer Marching Band" for 44 years until his passing in November 2004.

  • Local Morgantown ophthalmologist Larry Schwab was featured in a January 2002 issue of People Magazine. This is due to the fact that he graduated from WVU and the band in 1962, and rejoined "The Pride" again in 2000 at the age of 60.

  • The longest marching member of the band is trumpeter Dawn "Grandma" West who has marched a total of 36 years thus far. She joined the band in 1983.

  • Local Morgantown ophthalmologist Larry Schwab was featured in a January 2002 issue of People Magazine. This is due to the fact that he graduated from WVU and the band in 1962, and rejoined "The Pride" again in 2000 at the age of 60.

  • The oldest members to ever march in the band are saxophonist William Doddrill and trumpeter Larry Schwab. Doddrill, who was a member of the 1999 and 2000 bands, was 69 when he joined the band in 1999. After marching as an undergraduate from 1958-1962, Schwab, who continues to serve as an active member of the WVU Basketball Pep Band, marched with the band again from 2000 through 2011 until he was 71!

  • The first assistant director of the WVU Band was John Locke, who served as the Director of Bands at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro until his retirement in 2019.

  • The last band member to "220" out of the tunnel at Old Mountaineer Field in 1979 was drum major Ken Ozzello. Ken is now the Director of Bands at the University of Alabama.

  • The person who served the longest as a WVU Feature Twirler was Paula Jo (Meyer) Stout. She twirled for 8 seasons (1973-1980) while attending graduate school and Pharmacy School. Paula has served as a staff member of the band since the 1980's. The person to twirl the next longest was Kathy (Holland) Burton who twirled for 6 seasons (1974-1979) while she was in undergraduate and graduate school.

  • Former feature twirler Saundra Lee Patton (1984-1988) was selected Miss West Virginia in 1987 and represented the state in the Miss America Pageant receiving a talent scholarship.

  • The first year the band had two drum majors was in 1981 when Dan Kincaid and Patrick Garrett were selected.

  • The first female drum major was Cara Porterfield, who was selected for the 1982 and 1983 seasons.

  • In 1986, the band had three drum majors with Karen Tucker, Lori Dawkins, and Kim Weaver being selected. The band returned to two drum majors the following season.

  • Beginning in 2013, the band added two assistant drum majors to the “Drum Major Team” to assist with conducting and logistics.

  • The longest serving secretary (now "Program Assistant") in the history of the WVU Bands was Anita Lawson. She took over the position in September of 1979 and served until 2013.

  • During the past several decades the band has become known as an ambassador for West Virginia University. This is mostly due to their various exhibition performances throughout the state. The WVU Band has performed in nearly every county in the state of West Virginia.

  • The first off-campus band camp was held in 1963 at Camp Horseshoe in Parsons, WV (complete with no electricity, no hot water, and pit toilets!). In subsequent years, band camp was held at Camp Dawson in Kingwood, WV. In 1979, camp was held at Cedar Lakes in Ripley, WV. Since 1980, band camp has been held back on-campus.

  • Since "new" Mountaineer Field opened in 1980, the band has been located in five different sections in the stands: the lower right of the "students' side" (section 103), the lower left of the "students' side" (section 108), the upper deck of the students' section (section 206), the north endzone (section 115), and in the lower north endzone seats where the band presently sits.

  • In 1979, an anonymous donor from Parkersburg paid the admission cost for the entire WVU Band to attend a Broadway Show. The 280-member band enjoyed "A Chorus Line" while in New York City for the WVU/Syracuse game (which was played at Giants' Stadium).

  • The band received invitations to participate in two Presidential Inaugural Parades in Washington, D.C.: in 1969 for Richard Nixon and in 1985 for Ronald Reagan.

  • In January 2005, the band marched in Charleston (WV) for the inauguration parade for WV Governor Joe Manchin. The band also performed for the second Inaugural of Governor Manchin in January 2009.

  • In September 2005, the WVU Band participated in the national "Constitution Day" festivities by presenting a concert on the grounds of the US Capitol Building. In attendance was Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV). 

  • The WVU Band was the first collegiate marching band to perform at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center in 1982. The band returned to EPCOT for performances in 1989 and 1994. The band has also performed in Disney’s Magic Kingdom in 1996, 2003, 2004, 2016, and 2018.

  • In December 2006, the WVU Band performed for the first time at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. The band returned to Universal Studios in December of 2009 for a second visit, and again in December of 2010 as well.

  • The WVU Band served as a primary host for the eastern regional championships of Bands of America from 1985 to 2001.

  • In 1995, the band expanded its annual cassette recordings to include their first compact disc recording. The band's first DVD was in 2001.

  • For the 100th anniversary season of 2001, the WVU Band celebrated with two notable events:  

    • Kappa Kappa Psi commissioned band alumnus and award-winning composer Jay Chattaway to arrange a centennial selection which was performed at Homecoming.

    • The WVU Band and the 500+ member Alumni Band combined forces at Homecoming to perform  Fight Mountaineers and  Mountain Dew at pregame and the powerful  Walk Him Up the Stairs/Old Man River at halftime.

  • After a prestigious 34-year career as WVU's Director of Bands, Don Wilcox retired at the end of the 2004-2005 academic year. His final concert in April 2005 featured these former students conducting the WVU Wind Symphony: Alan McMurray, John Locke, David McCullough, Ken Ozzello, John Hendricks, and James Tully.

  • The last musical selection Don Wilcox conducted with the WVU Marching Band as WVU's Director of Bands was  Country Roads at the November 2004 KeyNote Concert. The last selection he conducted on WVU's Creative Arts Center stage was Sousa's  Stars and Stripes Forever with the combined Wind Symphony and Concert Band. The last piece he conducted as WVU's Director of Bands was Zo Elliot's  British Eighth March at WVU's 2005 Commencement ceremony.

  • The WVU Alumni Band has been active for 50 years. The group participates every year at Homecoming by marching in the Homecoming Parade & participating in the pregame football festivities. The Alumni Band has a database of over 1,600 members. In summer of 2001 the Alumni Band “kicked off” the WVU Bands’ 100th anniversary celebration with a first ever European tour to Belgium, England, France, Germany & Italy. In July 2005 the group toured Eastern Europe performing in Austria, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, & the Czech Republic. In the summer of 2007, the group again traveled to Europe, performing in Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden & Norway). In the summer of 2010, the group traveled to Italy and Greece for their 4th international tour. Summer 2012 marked the group's 5th international adventure with a trip to the Baltic States, including Warsaw, Poland and Helsinki, Finland. In the summer of 2014, the group traveled to Ireland and Scotland for their 6th European adventure. In the summer of 2016 the group traveled to Spain, France, Italy, and Switzerland for their 7th trip.

  • The WVU Foundation created  "The Pride Travel Fund" during the summer of 2007 in order to help defer the cost of travel for the WVU Band. In the inaugural year, the new initiative raised approximately $90,000, and has continued to provide much needed funding for the band's travel ever since. As of the start of the 2019 season, the total amount raised by the Pride Travel Fund is in excess of $1,000,000!

  • On January 1, 2010 at the Gator Bowl featuring WVU vs. Florida State, the WVU Band performed at the historic final game for legendary football coach Bobby Bowden. Bowden was a coach at WVU from 1966-1975, including serving as the head coach from 1970-1975. He was the head coach at Florida State from 1976 to 2010. 

  • With the performances at Yankee Stadium in New York in 2012, FedEx Field in Landover, MD, in 2017, and Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC, in 2018, the WVU Marching Band has now performed in more than 16 different NFL and professional sports team stadiums since 1970.

  • To help kick off WVU's Inaugural Season in the Big 12 Conference, the entire WVU Marching Band performed at the WVU vs. Texas Women's Volleyball Game on August 29, 2012. This game was the very first WVU activity as a member of the Big 12 and drew an all-time record crowd to the Coliseum for a women's volleyball game.

  • On Saturday, April 25, 2015, representatives from Macy's officially invited "The Pride" to participate in the 2016 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City! 

  • The band performed at the Pittsburgh Steelers home opener vs. the San Francisco 49ers at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA in September of 2015. This was the first time the band performed at a Steelers game at Heinz Field, but not the first time performing for the Steelers. The band had previously performed for Steelers games at Three Rivers Stadium and once at Mountaineer Field for a pre-season exhibition game vs. the Atlanta Falcons in 1998 due to scheduling conflicts in both Pittsburgh and Atlanta.

Bowl trips the marching band has participated in since 1968:

Bowl trips the marching band has participated in since 1968
2018 Season Camping World Bowl Orlando, FL
2017 Season Heart of Dallas Bowl Dallas, TX
2016 Season Russell Athletic Bowl Orlando, FL
2015 Season Motel 6 Cactus Bowl Phoenix, AZ
2014 Season AutoZone Liberty Bowl Memphis, TN
2012 Season New Era Pinstripe Bowl Brooklyn, NY
2011 Season Discover Orange Bowl Miami, FL
2010 Season Champs Sports Bowl Orlando, FL
2009 Season Gator Bowl Jacksonville, FL
2008 Season Meineke Car Care Bowl Charlotte, NC
2007 Season Fiesta Bowl Tempe, AZ
2006 Season Gator Bowl Jacksonville, FL
2005 Season Sugar Bowl Atlanta, GA
2004 Season Gator Bowl Jacksonville, FL
2003 Season Gator Bowl Jacksonville, FL
2002 Season Continental Tire Bowl Charlotte, NC
2000 Season Music City Bowl Nashville, TN
1998 Season Bowl Tucson, AZ
1997 Season Carquest Bowl Miami, FL
1996 Season Gator Bowl Jacksonville, FL
1994 Season Carquest Bowl Miami, FL
1993 Season Sugar Bowl New Orleans, LA
1989 Season Gator Bowl Jacksonville, FL
1988 Season Fiesta Bowl Tempe, AZ
1987 Season Sun Bowl El Paso, TX
1984 Season Blue Bonnet Bowl Houston, TX
1983 Season Hall of Fame Bowl Birmingham, AL
1982 Season Gator Bowl Jacksonville, FL
1981 Season Peach Bowl Atlanta, GA
1975 Season Peach Bowl Atlanta, GA
1972 Season Peach Bowl Atlanta, GA
1969 Season Peach Bowl Atlanta, GA
1968 Season Liberty Bowl Atlantic City, NJ

Follow the Mountaineer Marching Band